This classic Broccoli Salad with Bacon is the perfect 15 minute side dish to make for potlucks, BBQs, holiday parties or dinners at home. It’s filled with raw broccoli, bacon, onions, apples, sunflower seeds, Craisins all tossed in a creamy homemade dressing.
Easy Broccoli Salad with Bacon
This easy peasy Broccoli Salad with Bacon is one of those classic recipes that never gets old. You’ve probably eaten some variation of it at a holiday dinner, potluck or summer get together but perhaps you’ve never actually made it yourself. If that’s the case, today’s the day!
It’s made with tons of crunchy veggies, crisp apples, savory bacon, salty sunflower seeds, tart dried cranberries all tossed in a creamy dressing with a little tang. As you can see, the salad is loaded with flavor already, but also super customizable. We’ve given you ideas below if you want to swap out ingredients or make healthy substitutions to the salad dressing.
You’ll also be pleased to know that this recipe takes just minutes to prepare and only a handful of ingredients. And last but not least, it’s also the perfect make-ahead side dish because the flavors actually improve with a little time in the fridge. Go ahead and bookmark this as it’s certain to become one of your favorite recipes too.
Ingredients in Broccoli Salad with Bacon
- Broccoli - make sure and wash your broccoli, then cut into nice, bite-sized pieces (roughly ½”-¾”). You can absolutely use raw broccoli, but if you choose to blanch it, I recommend blanching in boiling water for about 30 seconds. After blanching, immediately transfer to ice water to chill.
- Onion - this recipe calls for red onions, but of course you can use white or yellow, or even shallots. Just be sure and dice them small.
- Apples - I like to use any kind of super crispy apple. Honeycrisp is amazing, but Fuji, Gala or Granny Smith would work great, too.
- Lemon Juice - mix the fresh lemon juice with ½ cup of cold water to soak the diced apples in so that they don’t turn brown.
- Bacon - you can use any type of bacon that you like, or else purchase premade bacon bits. If you go that route, you’ll need about 1 cup.
- Craisins - any brand of dried cranberries will work, or you can substitute regular raisins or golden raisins.
- Sunflower Seeds - these add a little salty crunch to the salad that is so yummy, and keeps the salad nut-free.
Dressing for Broccoli Salad
- Mayonnaise - we recommend regular mayo, but if you want you could use reduced fat mayo, Miracle Whip or even Greek Yogurt.
- Sugar - I like how white granulated sugar tastes in the dressing, but a tasty substitute would be maple syrup.
- Lemon Juice - lemon juice makes the salad dressing taste nice and fresh, but you could also use white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
Broccoli Salad with Bacon, Raisins and More
Whether you dislike certain ingredients in this salad or simply want to switch things up, here are a few ideas for ingredients that would taste amazing in this salad:
- Pomegranate seeds
- Shredded cheese or chunks of cheese (Pepper Jack or cheddar)
- Pine nuts or sliced almonds
- Chopped cauliflower
- Shredded carrots
- Dried cherries
How to Make this Easy Broccoli Salad Recipe
- Make the salad dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, lemon juice, and sugar. Set aside.
- Prep the veggies and apples. Dice the broccoli and onion as directed then transfer to a large mixing bowl. Wash and dice the apples, then soak in a small bowl with the lemon juice and cold water for a few minutes to keep the apples from browning.
- Cook the bacon. Meanwhile, cut the bacon into ½" pieces and cook in a skillet over medium heat until slightly crispy and golden brown. Once cooked, remove from the skillet using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
- Mix. Add the bacon bits, drained apples, Craisins and sunflower seeds to the bowl with the broccoli and onion. Pour about ⅔ of the dressing over the broccoli salad, mixing until evenly coated. If it looks a little dry, add the rest of the dressing and mix again.
- Serve. Store covered in the refrigerator for a few hours, or serve immediately. Enjoy!
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- This salad tastes best if left to sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving as it gives the flavors time to mingle. Therefore, this is a great make-ahead recipe!
- Personally, I don’t love a lot of extra dressing on my Broccoli Salad with Bacon and tend to err on the side of barely coating the veggies. If you like your salad a little more wet, use the entire cup of salad dressing.
- If you want to cut some of the calories from this recipe, you can try substituting an oil-based mayo, Miracle Whip or even Greek Yogurt. None will give you the same flavor as mayo, but will still be tasty.
- Refrigerator: store broccoli salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Make-ahead: this can be made ahead and stored in the fridge up to 2 days in advance.
Broccoli Salad With Bacon Recipe
Dressing for Broccoli Salad
- 1 cup Mayonnaise
- 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
- 2 Tablespoons Sugar
- 6 cups Broccoli chopped into ½"-¾" pieces
- ½ large Red Onion diced small
- 2 medium Honeycrisp Apples diced into ½" pieces
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- ½ cup Water cold
- 1 lb Bacon or 1 cup bacon bits
- ½ cup Craisins or raisins
- ⅓ cup Sunflower Seeds roasted and salted
Salad Dressing for Broccoli Salad
- In a small bowl, combine the mayo, lemon juice, and sugar. Whisk to combine, then set aside.
For the Raw Broccoli Salad
- Dice the broccoli and onion as directed then transfer to a large mixing bowl. Wash and dice the apples, then soak in a small bowl with the lemon juice and cold water for a few minutes to keep the apples from browning.
- Meanwhile, cut the bacon into ½" pieces and cook in a skillet over medium heat until slightly crispy and golden brown. Once cooked, remove from the skillet using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
- Add the bacon bits, drained apples, Craisins and sunflower seeds to the bowl with the broccoli and onion. Pour about ⅔ of the dressing over the broccoli salad, mixing until evenly coated. If it looks a little dry, add the rest of the dressing and mix again.
- Store covered in the refrigerator for a few hours, or serve immediately. Enjoy!
More of the Best Simple Salad Recipes to Try
- Fall Harvest Salad
- Winter Fruit Salad
- Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad
- Grilled Chicken BLT Salad
- Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad
- BBQ Chicken Salad
- More Side Dish Recipes
- More Easy Weeknight Meals
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This homemade Broccoli Salad with Bacon is a great side dish for BBQs, potlucks or an everyday weekday dinner. It's full of raw broccoli, bacon, onions, apples, sunflower seeds, Craisins all tossed in a creamy homemade dressing.